Approx. 2400 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
The Chaos Problem
written by SJ
One of the problems with a space jump was that there was no way to contact the spaceships after they had jumped. Once Major Taliaferro had arrived with his Space Marines at Cimarron, they had to return home again. As for Lana and her team, Colonel Gallardo had given her the okay to return right away using her Special Ops shuttle once she was released from the medical ward on the destroyer.
Upon arrival, Lana was transferred to Camp Cheyenne Mercy Hospital for a more extensive check up on her laspistol wound, one that had damaged part of her lung. She stayed for some minor surgery, then was released, still feeling a little weak, but doing fine...fine enough to join Bull and Gannon on a trip to the Blast Zone.
For some reason, the two big Marines had told HER to go pick up the vehicle from the motor pool, and that they’d be waiting for her at the mess hall. When she drove up, there they were, each with one pant leg rolled up, grinning, a pair of hairy legs exposed as they hollered to her in mock feminine voices, “yooo hooo, come pick us up.”
She sighed, but didn’t want to laugh since it still hurt a little to do so; she then slid over to let Gannon take the wheel.
The next day, Lana sat in the Colonel’s office for a meeting with the General (which included Dion’s team), Yarrick (which included Commissar Shaw), Jennifer Dakota (now an Officer, even though she had preferred staying a Master Sergeant), and Librarian Marcellus.
The first thing on the General’s mind was the follow up from the battle on Cimarron. After talking about what had happened with the Pendulum of Doom, he sighed hard then had to most ingloriously say, “if that space ship shows up someplace in a month without a scratch on it, I’m going to sit here and shit one giant solid neutronium brick.”
There were a couple chuckles, but they all knew what he meant: If Chaos was able, in a month, to completely repair all the damage done to the Pendulum of Doom, then they were all in a whole Galaxy of trouble. But, so far, no such ship appeared anywhere, and neither did the Legion.
As for Cimarron City, after they had accounted for the deaths of fourteen people, they found twelve people missing, all of them high ranking government officials, which included the Prime Minister himself. This left them in a quandary as what Chaos was going to do with such officials.
Next on the General’s mind was the Chaos warship that had been spotted briefly in orbit around Tiberia, the one with the skulls. It didn’t match the description of any of the Chaos warships they’d seen so far. Upon a closer examination of Tiberia’s pictures of the ship, they found the symbol of Khorne in several places.
When Yarrick got the news, he almost had a fit. He had thought Khorne was finished, and even now was hoping this ship, now being called, the Ship of Skulls, was just another Chaos force USING the Khorne symbol. But that was not to be.
Knowing what the General was going to say next, Yarrick was not happy. “He’s BACK!”
“A little while ago we got the news of the CAPTURE of a Federal destroyer in the Pegasi system.” The General made the announcement formally. “It’s one of the second class, older-style, destroyers...one that had been permanently assigned to that Cartel Capital, named after the planet, the Kashmyr.” He paused, then continued. “When the Chaos ship was detected, the destroyer was dispatched only to go out and ID the ship. And even though it was a second class destroyer, it still had the same speed as a first class. The Ship of Skulls came in fast with a speed that was at least thirty percent faster than the destroyer. It hit it with a strong tractor beam before it could get under cover of the planetary guns then grappled the destroyer before it could fire a torpedo. It then cut holes in its hull and boarded--”
“And there he was--Khârn!” Yarrick cut in. “He was right there on the videos leading his troops to take over the destroyer. God, I think he took the bridge all by himself--before the Captain could set any kind of self destruct.” He prepared to explain. “Inside that mine on Cornucopia--we killed him. We KNOW we did! We found pieces of his armor and of him, even though his body was severely decomposed.” He sighed. “At this point, we have to assume that all their top leaders can’t die. GREAT!”
“We didn’t see any Khorne Chaos Marines matching Nehemiah, at least. So, maybe it’s just their one TOP leader that can’t die.” The General paused to think, then asked, “Marcellus, what’s your thoughts on this subject?”
The Librarian already had a theory. “Well, I think it’s a little more than that. On Tolstoy, we deciphered the writing on the shoulder pads of those Tzeentch Chaos Marines to be ‘Thousand Sons’. On the Khorne Chaos Marines, those that took over the destroyer, they translated as, ‘World Eaters.’ The language for both of them were the same.”
“So you’ve identified the language, then?” The General was eagerly curious. “Do you know what it is?”
“That’s going to take some explanation.” Marcellus paused to think. “Cuneiform is one of the most earliest forms of writing on Old Earth. Now imagine a much more complex form of writing, an actual language in fact, which Cuneiform could’ve been developed from. In other words, long ago when primitive civilizations needed a language, they must’ve found a language they could only understand a small part of; they then used that to make their own language, Cuneiform. When the Chaos language on the shoulder pads was given to our linguistic computer, it came up with Cuneiform and understood it because the words were very simple: Thousand. Sons. World. Eaters. If we ever find an entire paragraph of this Chaos language, it’s very possible our computers will have a hard time translating all of it. And even then, this may simply be the most CURRENT Chaos language. It could, very well, go back even further...millions of years, maybe longer.”
Yarrick sighed, intrigued, but wanting the Librarian to get to the point. “But, how does that explain how a Chaos leader could literally come back from the dead?”
“Yes, of course.” Marcellus understood. “The fact that this language is very possibly millions of years old tells us that these armies, the Thousand Sons, the World Eaters, are equally that old...if not older. The theory we have now is that these armies all existed at one time. And at that time, they were very powerful...if not the MOST powerful armies in the Galaxy. However, they’re all gone now, their souls literally trapped in a place of eternal darkness--the WARP. But, now they’ve found a way out--into our Universe.” He addressed Yarrick directly. “To answer your question. All troops, leaders, or whatever, that are part of the Thousand Sons or World Eaters, ALL should have the ability to return to fight again even after they’ve been killed. Like demons, their souls simply return to the WARP, where they can be used again...and again.”
Yarrick took a deep breath and sighed, then lifted his arms and slapped them against his sides in frustration. “Well--never ask a question you don’t want the answer to.”
“How about the others, those people taken by Chaos and turned into Cultists and Marines?” The General expanded the earlier question.
Marcellus didn’t hesitate. “Those...no. Even though it seems that Chaos can forcibly take these poor souls into the WARP--they do not belong there, and there’s nothing Chaos can do to keep them there once their souls have been separated from their bodies. The only translation we have for them are--Chosen.”
“That makes sense.” Officer LaFong spoke up. “When I was captured by Alpharius, he told me I didn’t deserve to be any part of the host of Chaos...that I was undeserving to be in such a holy place as the WARP.”
“HOLY place?” Yarrick remarked. “More like UNHOLY place.”
LaFong’s statement gave Marcellus a new theory. “That makes me think that any person captured by Chaos would need to be prepared in some way BEFORE they can even be taken INTO the WARP at all, and once there, would have to remain in some sort of unconscious suspension. They would probably need some sort of physical connection to the WARP, like a WARP Worm, but what else, I don’t know.” He spoke directly to LaFong. “That means when you were captured, you couldn’t have been taken THROUGH the WARP, but...in a way--jumped across it, like a space jump. That may give us a little more insight to how WARP gates work.” He sat thinking, then asked, “LaFong, did you have to be treated for any extensive WARP radiation?”
Lana shook her head. “No, I didn’t. It was only residual.”
“But, how do they get all this equipment for their troops: battle suits, bolters, armored vehicles? Hell, how do they even get bodies?” Yarrick’s question was one everyone wanted to know.
“Yes, yes indeed...how?” Marcellus remained thinking, unsure about how to answer. “The full answer to that question is not available, and probably never will be. Some of the weapons for the Chosen seem to be captured weapons, of course. As for the others, it’s best to say they were constructed by some sort of bio-nanobot technology.”
“We use nanobots to make and put together things that are very small,” Yarrick mentioned, “but, not for anything larger. Are you saying they can make stuff like weapons and armor, hell--even a tank, using nanobots? And what do you mean, bio-nanobot?”
“Here’s our working theory.” Marcellus began. “Some kind of microscopic creature wearing a shell, like a turtle, crawls into a specific position, then, we assume, dies. In doing so, this seems to release energy that fuses that shell into place with the other shells. Eventually, a weapon or piece of armor is formed.”
Yarrick seemed exasperated. “But, how are these bio-nanobots controlled? How are they programmed? Where is this even being done? How--” He stopped, not knowing how to continue.
“Yarrick!” The General spoke up. “Give Marcellus a break.” He looked at the Librarian and complimented, “I think you’ve done an exemplary job to come this far in such a short time.” He looked back at Yarrick. “I think we are just going to have to accept there are things we’ll never understand. We are dealing with the WARP, and in some cases, we are better off, NOT understanding.”
“Yes.” Marcellus agreed. “However, the two things we ARE going to need to one day understand is simple: How are they getting into our Universe, and how do we stop them? Everything else is secondary. As to where they are getting, or how they are controlling, these bio-nanobots...any theory would be highly speculative at best. The only thing I could add is once the bio-nanobot releases its shell, it seems to leave behind a small essence of the WARP. Once the weapon or armor is separated from a living creature that has its own WARP essence, the material, the shell, as it were, slowly degrades. This would seem to explain why any captured Chaos weapons and armor appear in such poor condition.”
“Do you think it’s possible these bio-nanobots could construct a body as well?” The General asked, mentioning, “we already know they can grow bodies in some sort of pod...those Khorne Cultist Berserkers, for example. Maybe they use something similar to that?”
The Librarian sighed. “Yes, we’ve considered that. As for the question of bodies, well...I think that’s going to be one of those things we’ll never understand, and very possibly, shouldn’t. Whereas it’s logical to assume that some kind of pod can grow a body, or bio-nanobots construct a body, we have no idea how they can transfer a soul into it? I’m afraid something like that is going to remain well beyond our understanding. But, it could explain why any Tzeentch- or Khorne-specific Chaos bodies left behind decompose so quickly.”
After a short pause, Commissar Shaw had a question. “The Khorne Chaos Marines my team faced in the mine looked a little different from the ones that took over the destroyer. They now all seem to have the same designs on the sides of their helmets--the same as Khârn. Does that mean anything?”
“I’m afraid it just might.” Marcellus answered simply. “These new Marines are probably more powerful and better trained. And the presence of skulls usually stands for berserkers.”
“So...we should consider them Khorne Berserkers?” Shaw asked.
“Yes--at least!” Marcellus agreed, emphatically.
“...at least?” Shaw wondered.
“You see, normal berserkers do not usually carry firearms. And if they did, they would be very poor with them.” Marcellus looked at Shaw. “I would not assume the same with these Khorne Berserkers. They could very possibly be very accurate with their firearms and do so even while on the move.”
Shaw sighed then glanced at Yarrick. “Like you said High Commissar...never ask a question you don’t want the answer to.”
They both chuckled.
The General then had a serious question. “These ancient armies, the Thousand Sons, the World Eaters, in order for them to have been the most powerful armies in the Galaxy, wouldn’t there had to have been a lot of them. And if their souls are now trapped in the WARP, why doesn’t Chaos bring out hundreds of them, thousands?”
“Or millions?” Marcellus added, then tried to explain. “Yes...we’ve thought of that. It seemed to us that once they have an open WARP gate, why not march a million troops right onto a planet and take over?” He sighed. “That’s a very good question, General. But, it’s one, I’m afraid, we don’t have the answer to.”
There was an ominous silence for awhile...
Eventually the General spoke. “Well...we’re just going to have to solve the problem before that happens.” He sighed. “Because, if they ever find a way to bring millions of troops through a WARP gate, that could easily mean an end to the Terran civilization.”